tsunami travel time
A computer generated image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the projected travel times of the tsunami caused by the magnitude 8.9 earthquake which struck Japan on March 11. The California coast was hit harder than many other places in North America, with the towns of Crescent City and Santa Cruz reporting damage. NOAA

California appears to be the region of the U.S. that has been hardest hit by the tsunami generated by a magnitude 8.9 earthquake off the coast of Japan.

The earthquake, which occurred in the early hours of Friday Morning in the U.S., generated a tsunami that inundated parts of the country. Pictures from Sendai airport, in the northeastern part of Honshu, the largest Japanese island, showed water rising several feet, covering the area in debris.

Crescent City and Santa Cruz are reporting significant damage. The Los Angeles Times reports that some boats were crushed and there is damage to the towns' docks, though no one has thus far been injured. The first waves started arriving at about 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time (10:30 Eastern).

The last tsunami to hit Crescent City was in 1964, in the wake of a magnitude 9.2 temblor that hit Alaska. The wave caused 12 fatalities and destroyed much of the town.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has posted the observed wave heights at several stations along the coast of North America. One of the largest differences between predictions and observations was in Crescent City. Crescent City was supposed to see a 1.56 meter wave (5.1 feet) but got 2.47 meters, or more than 8 feet.

Little or no damage is being reported from the coasts of Alaska, Washington and Oregon, despite larger waves than predicted in Alaska towns such as Adak and Port Alexander.

Of the 13 locations with larger than expected wave height, six are in Alaska and four are in California. Oregon and Washington had one station each that reported bigger waves. The California coast is the most heavily populated, especially south of San Francisco.

Eleven locations reported smaller waves than experts predicted. Port Orford, Ore., was forecast to see a 1.82 meter wave (about 5.9 feet), but the actual height reached was 1.18 meters (3.8 feet). Santa Monica, Calif., and Sitka, Alaska, also reported smaller waves, all under 1 meter.

Not every location has reported its measurements yet. NOAA has 180 at which those measurements can be taken. About 30 have reported in.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story call (646) 461 6917 or email j.emspak@ibtimes.com.